Why would you call it ancestor worship? It makes it sound like Buddhists are elevating their loved ones to the status of gods. That's ridiculous!
And yet that's how I've heard and seen Buddhism described.
It's a put down, isn't it? It's used to make Buddhism sound heathenistic, uncivilized, pagan, scary?
That's not how I was raised to believe.
My mother prays at the altar every morning to honor, not worship people she has loved and lost. She humbly sends her gratitude to the next world. She does believe that there is a next world where people she loved are waiting for her.
She also feels we need to visit graves at special times of the year to offer flowers and send our prayers of remembrance. She doesn't want us to forget those who went before us because they paved the way. We need to learn from their trials and make the way easier for those who will follow us.
Obon season now which is why we were at the grave site yesterday and temple tonight. We are remembering loved ones and honoring their memory.
This is a good thing. It's not ancestor worship.